Mountain Rescue Aspen will host special event Friday with people rescued in backcountry

Two members of Mountain Rescue Aspen on a mission after a climbing accident in the Maroon Bells in 2005.
Paul Conrad/Aspen Times file

Mountain Rescue Aspen is hosting an event Friday to remove whatever stigma exists in the minds of some backcountry travelers about having to call for help if something goes haywire.

The rescue organization will host an event called “What was it like to be rescued?” at the C.B. Cameron Rescue Center. It will feature conversations with Aspen-area residents who have been rescued in the not-so-distant past.

“We are going to have several locals come and tell their stories and answer three basic questions — what happened, what was the rescue like and what has changed since,” said Mountain Rescue Aspen representative Greg Shaffran.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. The discussion will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Seating is limited, so it is advised that people who want to attend arrive early. Parking also is limited, so carpooling or alternatives to personal vehicles are encouraged. The event will be live-streamed on Mountain Rescue Aspen’s Facebook page. The video also will be archived on the organization’s YouTube page.

Shaffran said people shouldn’t be embarrassed if they find themselves in a situation where they need to call a rescue group for help. Mountain Rescue Aspen doesn’t judge anyone for the situations they end up in or their decision to seek help.

“It’s not about second-guessing,” Shaffran said.

Even people with loads of experience and who have made all possible preparations sometimes find themselves in difficult situations, he said.

The speakers will include a local resident who suffered a broken leg in the backcountry; a second who was caught in an avalanche, suffered a broken leg and was evacuated via helicopter; and a third who survived a climbing incident but had a partner who didn’t make it. The spouse of one of the rescued persons also will speak to provide that special perspective, Shaffran said.

He said it is a tribute to their character that they will share. Hearing their stories might provide information that other backcountry travelers hadn’t thought of before and ultimately help them be better prepared, Shaffran said.

The event is part of the expanding approach Mountain Rescue Aspen is taking with education. The organization has offered an extremely popular avalanche workshop for 34 consecutive winters in January. It has started offering more summer education seminars in recent years. Its second annual Summer Workshop will be offered June 2. Details will be announced soon.

Shaffran said Mountain Rescue Aspen also is receptive to members of the public contacting the organization through its website with any questions or if they want to tour the rescue center.

“We’re not this secret, black ops organization that doesn’t want to talk to people,” he said.